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Injuries Play Huge Roll in 2020 Season
Everyone knew the 2020 NFL season was going to be different than any year before. Between no offseason, no preseason, Covid-19, and injuries, it’s necessary for teams to have more depth on their roster. The same is true for Fantasy Football managers who are trying to make their way through this season as well. Luckily for most managers, losing a week in Fantasy Football won’t cost them a job like it does in the NFL. All that being said, there have been some Winners and Losers so far this year in terms of Fantasy Football.
No matter what format you play in, Christian McCaffrey was most likely the number one overall pick in your draft. Even in two quarterback leagues, CMC was still first off the board and for good reason too. Last year, he accounted for 2,392 total scrimmage yards which ranks 3rd all-time in a single season. He topped 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving and caught 116 passes which surpassed his own NFL record from 2019 for running backs.
In most standard, half PPR, and full PPR drafts, Saquon Barkley was the consensus 2nd overall pick. The New York Giants had some hype behind them all offseason with the return of a talented offense. They have playmakers at receiver, tight end, and quarterback alongside Barkley. He has the ability to break off long runs and to catch passes similar to CMC. His usage was slated to be almost just as high as well.
To call these two “Losers” isn’t fair in my opinion. Both players went down with injury early on this year. Barkley is done for the year with an ACL injury and McCaffrey went on the short-term IR with an ankle injury. If you are the CMC owner there is still hope that he returns to regular form and dominates defenses like he can. It’s hard to remember the last time the consensus top two picks were both injured for an extended period, but this just reiterates my point about teams having extended roster depth.
All that being said, we are only a quarter of the way through the NFL season. There is plenty of time to turn your Fantasy team around if you focus and pay attention to what’s happening in your league. Managers are dropping big name players who have been injured or have under-performed so far. Sometimes you can get a steal off waivers if you’re lucky. Let’s jump into the Winners and Losers so far in the 2020 NFL season.
James Robinson – There was plenty of talk this offseason of how bad the Jaguars were going to be. Many analysts (including myself) had them with the worst record in the NFL and landing the top pick in the 2021 Draft. This team has shipped out most of their defense over the last few seasons which includes Jalen Ramsey and Calais Campbell, among others.
They also tried to trade Leonard Fournette all offseason but could never find a team interested in adding the former LSU running back. A surprise came early this season when the Jags decided to cut Fournette and hand the ball carrying duties to James Robinson, an undrafted rookie out of Illinois State. He has taken this roll and run with it; no pun intended. He’s averaging over 18 touches a game and looks to be the three down work horse for the surprising Jaguars offense. Look for Robinson to continue this impressive start and keep him in your lineups until something changes.
DK Metcalf – A common theme with head coach Pete Carroll is balance. He has always been near 50% run and pass throughout his time in Seattle. Russell Wilson is commonly known as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL so it’s frustrating to not see him have passing numbers like Pat Mahomes or Drew Brees. Wilson has the talent to put up similar numbers as those guys. There is a saying that I am sure you have heard. “Let Russ Cook!” I think it’s safe to say Russ is cookin’ and DK is eatin’.
This Seattle offense has accounted for almost 1,300 passing yards through the first 4 weeks. Metcalf leads the team in receiving yards (402) and is tied for second on the team in receiving touchdowns (3). He was probably drafted in your league to be a WR2, but as it stands right now, he’s a top 10 receiver depending on your format. Through 4 games, DK has either over 100 yards receiving or a touchdown in every game. Look for Russ to continue cooking and DK to continue eating. Lock him into your lineups every week.
Kyler Murray – This one shouldn’t come as a surprise to most because Murray was a breakout candidate in year 2 as it is. There was talk of him taking the Lamar Jackson leap coming into this year. Not only is it his 2nd year, but also, it’s head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s second year at the helm as well. Kyler was the top draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft after he won the Heisman at Oklahoma. The dual threat ability allows him to beat defense through the air and on the ground. Let’s not forget they added All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins as well.
This is the recipe for a huge breakout and so far, Murray has not disappointed. He has accounted for 11 touchdowns (7 passing, 4 rushing) through four weeks. He leads the team in rushing yards as well. If you want to see an NFL player tackle air, go back, and watch a couple of his runs near the goal line this year. Murray has taken that leap and looks to be one of the top fantasy quarterbacks in the league this year.
Kenyan Drake – This is almost too easy to put Drake on this list. There was so much hype around him coming into the season. After being traded from Miami last year, he put up great numbers as soon as he got to Arizona. For a lot of the same reasons we were excited about Kyler Murray, Drake was slated to have a huge year as well. So far fantast mangers have been largely disappointed. He has only one touchdown on the year and is completely uninvolved in the passing game.
The matchups have been extremely favorable, yet Drake hasn’t produced anything to show for it. It’s hard to know what to do with him because this offense moves the ball and plays at such a fast pace that opportunities to succeed should be there for him. If you can afford to keep him on your bench, I would. You can try to trade him before it’s too late, but that window is closing extremely fast. This next matchup with the Jets is kind of the last straw for him.
DJ Moore – Moore was a little hard to project coming into this season because he was entering the season with a completely new team basically. A brand-new coaching staff and quarterback made it hard to know exactly how he would be used. We were just counting on his talent to come through and provide fantasy managers with a WR1 for their team. However, this is not what has happened so far.
Moore does not have a single Red Zone target this year and has only surpassed 100 yards once. He has also only had more than 4 receptions only once as well. Robby Anderson seems to be the top guy on that team right now. It’s hard for fantasy managers to move on from one of their top draft picks, but unless something changes quickly it could be a lost season for DJ Moore.
Carson Wentz – It wasn’t long ago when Wentz was in the MVP race, leading the Eagles to the playoffs before he got hurt. We all know how it goes from there. Nick Foles comes in and leads the Eagles to a magical playoff run and a Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots. Since that season, the hopes for Wentz to return to that level have been high. Unfortunately, injuries to both himself and the receivers around him have derailed all those hopes. In the offseason, the Eagles drafted Jalen Reagor and returned Desean Jackson from injury. Alshon Jeffery is also on the roster as well.
There’s no way all three of them get hurt again, right? Wrong. Wentz has been without several weapons on offense that also included running back Miles Sanders for a short period as well. Wentz and the Eagles have struggled to produce anything on offense this year. Is that because of injury or because Wentz just isn’t that good? It’s hard to tell right now but there are plenty of other streaming options out there to replace Wentz on a week to week basis.
There are some players who were left off this list on both sides. Josh Allen from Buffalo is a huge Winner candidate due to his MVP type start he’s had. He has accounted for more touchdowns (13) than Kyler Murray so far. In the first game this year he threw for over 300 yards for the first time in his NFL career. His rushing ability also sets his floor extremely high. Look for him to continue his hot start and push the MVP talks throughout the season.
Mike Davis makes the Honorable Mention Winners list as well because he has stepped in for Christian McCaffrey extremely well. Unfortunately, this is a limited stint for him as CMC is scheduled to come back in the next couple weeks. He has at least 5 receptions in all his starts this year and has scored a touchdown in two of the three starts as well.
Tyler Boyd is another candidate due to his last three games. Everyone knows that rookie quarterbacks struggle in their first year, right? Well that’s not the case this year. Joe Burrow has looked great considering his rookie status. Luckily for him, he has several weapons around him which includes Boyd. This Bengals offense is starting to click, and Boyd has had at least 7 catches and 70 yards in the last three games. There are some tough matchups coming up but look for the Burrow-Boyd connection to continue as the Bengals will probably be trailing in a few games coming up.
Like I stated earlier, it’s hard for me to put someone who has been injured on the Losers list. That being said, I do have to add Chris Godwin to that list right now. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy so far this year. A hamstring issue during Week 1 and now a concussion issue will cost him Week 4 and 5. Obviously we hope he heals and can return to his top performance, but for now he makes this list.
Regression works in two ways especially when talking about Fantasy Football. After an MVP year, there was fear the Lamar Jackson would see serious regression from his gaudy numbers last year. He was going in the first round of some fantasy drafts along with Mahomes. So far this year, the Ravens have the 31st ranked passing offense. Jackson is still running the ball, but games of 204, 97, and 193 yards passing really stand out to managers. By no means am I saying you should drop or even bench him, but it might be worth seeing what you can get for him in a trade. His name along bring value to managers who might not be fully invested into what’s going on. He does have a great schedule coming up so hopefully things turn around for him.
Mark Ingram makes the Losers list through Week 4. Most fantasy managers weren’t drafting him to be their RB1 or even their RB2 but coming off a season where he rushed for over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns there was some excitement. Unfortunately for him, he has seen his snap counts drop over the last few weeks as rookie JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards have seen theirs go up. Ingram is 30 years old and has a ton of miles on him. There could be a full phase out for him over the next couple weeks as the Ravens develop Dobbins and Edwards.